Pool Playing Robot


A professor at Queen’s University is developing a robot called “Deep Green” that will play pool.

From Globandmail.com:

The idea came to him five years ago, when he was at a bar playing his typically inconsistent game of pool with colleagues who were also attending a robotics conference. In frustration at yet another muffed shot, he announced it would be easier to build a pool-playing robot than to master the game himself.

It isn’t perfect yet though:

For one thing, the robot has a weak break — the crucial first shot of a game in which the billiard balls are scattered — and sends the balls only halfway down the table. This flaw will have to be fixed, says Dr. Greenspan, either by giving the arm more power, or programming it to move at a much higher speed.

Deep Green is extremely accurate at hitting the cue ball into any pocket from anywhere in the table. That, of course, is not really what pool is about, so the next step is to improve its accuracy when using the cue ball to sink the remaining balls.

(via Slashdot)

Human Powered Helicopter


A project has been underway since June of 1998 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada to design and build a Human Powered Helicopter. (The actual manufacture of the helicopter began in 2000). The UBC-HPH group has been successful at designing and constructing the “Thunderbird”. Various subprojects include design and construction of a test rig for small and full-scale rotors, design and construction of a human factor rig, and cooking of the composite spars in modified household ovens. In addition, both wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics have been used to aid in the design of the 36m (118ft) diameter beast.

The Newton Project


This is probably only useful to science historians but Newton was a weird guy and I wouldn’t mind reading some of his non-scientific papers sometime. Especially if they have some of his correspondences with Hooke.

The magnitude of Newton’s accomplishments places him in the very first rank of scientists and mathematicians. However, although most early modern scientists have been honoured with comprehensive editions of their collected works, there is no similar tribute to Newton. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this was seen as a gaping lacuna and even a national disgrace by scientists and statespeople alike. There are excellent editions of his mathematical and scientific papers, as well as of his correspondence, but very few of his non-scientific writings have ever appeared in print. The Newton Project will place these writings in their relevant contexts, which will be made accessible by means of hyperlinks.

A complete electronic edition of all of Newton’s works will add substantially to our understanding of his life and work and more generally to the intellectual history of the early modern period. The Newton Project also aims to be one of the most extensive and technologically sophisticated online resources for the study of any one individual, using both XML encoded texts and database technology.

New Bushisms

Everybody was posting the Bushism that happened last week:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

That one isn’t as scary as a different one that also happened last week. His answer to this question was on the level of a middle school student trying to bullshit his way through a pop quiz.

Q:What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century, and how do we resolve conflicts between tribes and the federal and the state governments?

THE PRESIDENT: Tribal sovereignty means that, it’s sovereign. You’re a — you’ve been given sovereignty, and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity. And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.

Yikes, he doesn’t have a clue does he?